Finlike design can create smaller transistors and powerful computer chips

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Washington, November 11 (ANI): Purdue University researchers are making progress in developing a new type of transistor that uses a finlike structure instead of the conventional flat design, possibly enabling engineers to create faster and more compact circuits and computer chips.

The fins are made not of silicon, like conventional transistors, but from a material called indium-gallium-arsenide.

Called finFETs, for fin field-effect-transistors, researchers from around the world have been working to perfect the devices as potential replacements for conventional transistors.

In work led by Peide Ye, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, the Purdue researchers are the first to create finFETs using a technology called atomic layer deposition.

Because atomic layer deposition is commonly used in industry, the new finFET technique may represent a practical solution to the coming limits of conventional silicon transistors.

"We have just demonstrated the proof of concept here," Ye said.

The finFETs might enable engineers to sidestep a problem threatening to derail the electronics industry.

New technologies will be needed for industry to keep pace with Moore's law, an unofficial rule stating that the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles about every 18 months, resulting in rapid progress in computers and telecommunications.

Doubling the number of devices that can fit on a computer chip translates into a similar increase in performance.

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue shrinking electronic devices made of conventional silicon-based semiconductors.

In addition to making smaller transistors possible, finFETs also might conduct electrons at least five times faster than conventional silicon transistors, called MOSFETs, or metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors.

"The potential increase in speed is very important," Ye said. "The finFETs could enable industry to not only create smaller devices, but also much faster computer processors," he added.

The finlike design is critical to preventing current leakage, in part because the vertical structure can be surrounded by an insulator, whereas a flat device has the insulator on one side only. (ANI)

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